Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mid July in the Garden

The butterfly bushes are blooming beautifully this year. Thanks to all the spring rain and good groundwater, the flowers are big and fat. I've never seen them look this good. In our bee and butterfly garden, we have a "Black Knight" which has the really dark purple flowers. In front of it blooms an unnamed lemon yellow daylily. What a pretty color combination. Another one I like is white coneflower and blue hyssop. It's the classic blue and white combo, plus I like the contrast in textures between the coarse coneflower and the finely cut linear foliage of hyssop. One day I was working by the hyssop and about every other stem had a bumblebee or a butterfly - mostly skippers - on it.
We never did anything to the thyme walk this spring because of the wet weather. It is so full and has been blooming several weeks. It's really one mass of flowers this summer. And the bees love it - honeybees, bumblebees, little tiny bees and other winged insects I can't identify. Also, at least one bunny's nest in the thyme walk. Think how good those bunnies smell! Lucy's been smelling around but she hasn't found them.

What looks good in the garden:
Anise hyssop - licorice scented, purple spiky flowers, bees love this too. Different than the blue hyssop above.
Coneflower - lots of big, cheerful flowers in several colors now.
Emilia - fuzzy scarlet flowers on wiry stems, deadhead for continuous blooming.
Love-lies-bleeding - chenille-like draping flowers. They'll continue to grow, but are striking even when small.
Cornflowers - loads of purple or blue flowers bloom constantly when they get going.

We've seen herons flying over, singly and a pair, but none have landed in the yard. I'm sure they're traveling between ponds.

One day, I was surprised to see a hops plant with about 90% of its leaves gone. It looked funny and I knew it wasn't like that the previous day. Looking closer, I saw big, hairy caterpillars on the few remaining leaves and the stems. They're the comma butterfly caterpillars which feed on hops. So I should have a bumper crop of them in the garden soon.

Most of my lavenders did not get trimmed in the spring because it was so wet. Then of course, blooms had formed and I didn't want to cut all the buds off. So now that they're done, it's time to trim them for shaping. I wound up cutting them all back hard. Most of them had nice new growth underneath and that will fill in nicely before it gets cold. A couple plants had little new growth and lots of deadwood. I just cut them back hard also. They may push out new foliage and be fine. If they don't, I'll pull them out and replace them in the fall. Sometimes with woody stemmed plants it is easier to start with a new plant.

What I'm harvesting now:
all varieties of mint
Chamomile flowers for tea
fast growing perennials like tarragon, savory, lemon balm, oregano, and catnip
basil - keep pinching back stems so plant is compact and full of foliage. If you don't use the cuttings with supper, dry/freeze.

My friend Sandy who does a lot of my computer work had a direct lightning strike to her house and it killed her computer. We'll be rebuilding our mailing list and the newsletter should still reach most people. The most likely to be missed are those who signed up this year. Also, once she's up and running I'll post the address for those getting an e-newsletter to submit their email address. Some of these storms this summer have been really bad. Each time one misses us, John breathes a big sigh of relief.

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